Worst US major sports franchise, recent decades

I was idly wondering what franchise in the major US sports leagues (NBA, NHL, MLB, NFL) was the least successful, recently. Obviously, “recently” and “least successful” are both poorly defined in that context.

So… what’s the right question to ask?

Here’s one: What team has gone the longest without winning a postseason series? (Replace “series” with “game” for NFL purposes.) I feel like making the postseason isn’t really an accomplishment for some leagues, but winning a playoff series has to give an awesome feeling of success for a fan.

So, (a) does anyone know the answer to that question, and (b) can anyone suggest a more appropriate question to rank abject failure?

The NBA started in 1946. The NFL started in 1920. The NHL started in 1917.
The Chicago Cubs haven’t won the World Series since 1908.

I don’t think the Kansas City Royals have been anywhere near the postseason since they won the World Series in 1985.

Wasn’t there an MLS team that was just sold/gotten rid of because they were so terrible since their inception?

Also if I can remember correctly the Colorado Rockies recently lost their 1000 or 2000th game or something making it the most losses in sports history, although it being baseball and they play 65,000 games a season the title is worse than the reality

Baseball Reference page team records
The oldest teams all have between 8,000 to over10,000 losses.

Are the Cubbies so loveable because they haven’t won in over 100 years?

Rhetorical question. I don’t want to hijack the thread. I’m a grateful SF Giants fan who can now die happy since they won it in 2010. :smiley:

The Lions haven’t won a post season game since 1957. The last time they routinely made the playoffs was in the mid '90s, when they had Barry Sanders. A player who retired at the age of 30, because the team refused to trade him. He retired and gave up millions of dollars rather than play another season for the Lions.

The Chicago Cubs have been the worst, even though they did win a League Division Series in 2003. They haven’t won a WS in 106 years, even though they were just 1 of 16 for the first half of that term. They haven’t even been to a World Series since 1945. Add to that they play in a major market with a large fan base, and it boggles the mind.

It was once suggested that the reasons the Cubs stunk was that they played all day games, at home, and that “tired” the players out, but now they have lights and play some night games, at home, and they still fall short.

However, I do expect that the Cubs will be one of the more successful teams over the next decade, although predicting a World Championship is always difficult.

In Hockey, The Toronto Maple Leafs, are not part of the US, but their failure to even make it tot he Stanley Cup Finals since 1967 (the last year of the 6-team NHL – they won). They have a huge fan-base and (had) a winning tradition (13 championships in the first 50 years).

I also find it surprising that, in the NBA, the New York Knicks have only won 2 championships (1970, 1973) in the 68 years of the league. New York City used to be the basketball center of the world. And since the start of Free Agency, NYC should have had few problems attracting top FA’s.

The Baltimore/Washington Bullets/Wizards have not been to NBA Finals since the 1964-65 season (they lost), have only been to been to playoffs six times in the last 53 years of their existence and have had only six winning seasons during that time.

Prediction: The Wizards will not win again this year.

It’s hard to argue with the Lions in the NFL, though even they did not deserve the utterly classless way that Sanders left them. If you’re going to retire, fucking say so and don’t leave your team wondering what your intentions are.

In hockey, I’d say the Leafs and the Islanders. Toronto has a huge advantage in fan base and that so many Canadian kids want to play for them. Great city, great tradition, but so little success. The Isles went from being a dominant team in the 1980s to nothing today.

In baseball, perhaps the Astros or Mariners. The Astros have been around as long as the Mets and have only one WS appearance to show for it, the M’s are still waiting for theirs.

The Washington Generals haven’t won a single game since 1971.

Not sure what you mean by that. The Cubs are 2-8 in overall World Series appearances, all of which came between 1906 and 1945. They are 3-14 in overall postseason series, with the only win since 1908 occurring against Atlanta in 2003.

The White Sox have won a postseason series in only one season since 1917, but they won three in that season (2005) and thus won the World Series.

Pittsburgh won the wild card game last year, but hasn’t won a postseason series since 1979.

More specifically, they were able to go out *every *night, in a major city with a lot of attractions for young men. Dennis Eckersley has been quite open about becoming an alcoholic when with the Cubs, and likes to reply to the common saying that “The toughest games are day games after night games” with “No, the toughest games are day games after day games.”

But the underlying problem is more likely chronic ineptitude in the front office, leading to an unproductive farm system. And they’re still the best answer to the question.

Do they tend to think they’re good just because they have such a large fan base?

when I said, “even though the Cubs were just 1 out of 16 during half that time…” I left out the word, teams, as in “were just 1 out of 16 teams during half that time.” From 1909 - 1961 (53 years) they were 1 of 16.

I don’t know what the Maple Leafs have been thinking, but they certainly have the finances to have the very best of front offices, coaching, training, scouting, etc… and there’s a great potential return as well.

You may have mistyped, but the Bullets won the NBA Finals in 1977, lead by Wes Unseld, beating Seattle 4-3. The next year, they appeared in the Finals again, but lost to Seattle 4-1.

For the NBA, though they’re not the worst franchise, I have to give a shout-out to the Atlanta Hawks. Never good enough to succeed, never sucky enough to draft high year after year. Looking at their draft history, their best first round picks were:

David Thompson, 1975. Oops. Decided to dump the ATL and go to the ABA. Developed drug problems, derailing “Jordan before Jordan”. Never became the NBA player he was projected to be.

Pete Maravich, 1970. Ouch. Head case, all-offense, no defense player. One of the most exciting college players of all time, never made it big in the NBA*. Likely because he played for the Hawks…

Pau Gasol, 2001. Let’s trade him! For Shareef Abdur-Rahim! At one time, Shareef owned the record for most NBA games played without a playoff appearance. He then joined the Sac Kings and was able to sneak in. But he was earning this record while spending (I think) 3-4 years with the Hawks.

*Compared to what people were saying when he graduated LSU. Maravich had some decent-to-good seasons, but his franchise never won anything.

Seems like the perennial losers of the NBA or NHL deserve most opprobrium - a mere 5 and 6 men, respectively, on the field of play. That’s a small number - now OK, you need a squad of players, so it’s a starting 5 / 6, but still - it seems like it should be far easier to turn around a failing basketball or hockey operation than baseball or NFL.
The Toronto Maple Leafs seem like a good shout for worst franchise - heinous record of failure.

There’s a big difference between Basketball and Hockey… in B-ball, your starters can play 40+ minutes (out of 48), but in Hockey, (outside of the goalie) even the best Defenseman only averages 30 minutes or so, and the best Center/Winger only go 20-25 mins (including PPlay situations). So you really need some kind of depth across at least 3 lines and 2 defense pairings.

I did “mistype.”
It has only been 36 years since the Bullets/Wizards have been in the Finals.


They have been , however, consistently the worst team NBA team in the last 40 years.